Short-term rental in Tuscaloosa finds success

Short-term rental in Tuscaloosa finds success

The Tuscaloosa City Council passed a resolution earlier this summer, allowing the short-term leasing of residencies in certain areas throughout the city. The concept of home-sharing was not one that was accepted wholeheartedly by some members of the community, and the resolution faced opposition despite support from Mayor Walt Maddox, the council members, University of Alabama students and their parents.

The resolution allows for Tuscaloosa residents in certain areas to lease their home for days or weeks at a time with apps such as Airbnb and VRBO, which specialize in the short-term rental market. The opposition against short-term leasing stemmed from fear that these areas will attract crime or will affect those already participating in short-term rentals without legal backing. There are also lodging and licensing fees that come with the legal oversight of short-term leasing.

However, the majority of those in Tuscaloosa saw a problem with game days and parent's weekends. Hotel prices on busy Tuscaloosa weekends skyrocket and are often booked months in advance, which causes problems for parents and alumni trying to make it down for the event.  

The resolution allows for more options at a cheaper price. Cameron Tew, a senior majoring in journalism and creative media, believes that Tuscaloosa game day weekends have been enhanced due to short-term rentals.

“Tuscaloosa has absolutely reaped the benefits,” Tew said. “The rise of out-of-state students at UA within the past few years has definitely allowed companies to bring convenience to families and fans that want to enjoy the Tuscaloosa area. The hotel prices that inflate during game day weekends can be a major turnoff to hard working families that cannot afford such a rate.”

The thought that the areas permitted for short-term leasing – the T.O. Lake District and T.O. Downtown District – would be subject to higher crime rates and drug activity has appeared to be over-estimated. The areas have experienced success with leasing in the short-term while not seeing a rise in crime. Leasing companies, the tenants, parents and students have all expressed their satisfaction with the new policy, and even expressed the desire to expand the policy.

“The city should have already allowed more areas to be eligible for this policy," said Gerald Fraas, junior economics major. "A few individuals' paranoia is not enough to justify holding back a tried-and-true marketplace like short-term leasing. The reality is, most properties near the stadium were already operating on a form of short-term leasing, but a quick look at AirBnb shows that several are available for rent.”

With the success that Tuscaloosa has seen on high-population days with short-term rentals, the city council may choose to expand the areas allowed to participate in home-sharing. With the integrity of the neighborhoods still intact, the options available for people coming into town are more extensive than ever.  

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